Last week, Spain adopted two new laws to ensure gender equality in the workplace, one concerning equality plans, the other equal remuneration.
In light of the existing legislation, adopted in March 2019, equality plans aim to:
- ensure the equal treatment of and opportunities for employees (including those providing temporary services through an agency); and
- eliminate any gender-based discrimination.
An employer must set up an equality plan if it:
- has 50 or more employees;
- is bound by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for such an obligation; or
- is obliged to do so under a disciplinary order issued by the employment authorities.
The recent law clarifies several issues that arise when setting up and implementing an equality plan, which employers should keep in mind, as set out below.
The new law explains how the number of employees is calculated in order to determine if the employer must implement an equality plan.
The law sets out certain deadlines for negotiations and details how to carry out those negotiations in companies that do and don’t have employee representatives.
There is no obligation to reach an agreement. In such a case, the employer must adopt the equality plan unilaterally.
Employers that belong to the same group can set up a single equality plan.
An equality plan must, as a minimum, detail:
- the parties that negotiated it;
- the plan's scope (personal and geographical) and duration;
- diagnosis (see below);
- results of the remuneration audit;
- specific measures/actions; and
- a timetable for implementing those measures/actions.
The plan should include details of the employer's situation in the following areas:
- recruitment process;
- employment conditions;
- remuneration audit; and
- policies/procedures on the prevention of sexual harassment and harassment on the grounds of sex, and work-life balance.
The maximum term of an equity plan is four years. However, it should be reviewed under specific circumstances, such as mergers or acquisitions, staff transfers or other events that might significantly affect employees.
This new legislation means that an employer with an existing equality plan needs to review and amend it before it expires or within 12 months of the new law coming into force, whichever is sooner.
The new legislation concerning equal remuneration will enter into force within six months from publication, ie by mid-April 2021. The main elements of this law comprise the following.
Setting up a remuneration registry
All employers are required to have a remuneration registry of all employees (including senior and top management), with average salaries and benefits values split by gender and distributed by professional groups, professional categories or job positions of the same value.
Access to the registry
Employee representatives shall have access to the full registry.
If there are no employee representatives, employees should have access to the information sorted in a different way: the information should be expressed as an average percentage difference in remuneration between men and women.
Requirements for employers that carry out remuneration audits (ie those that must prepare an equality plan)
Such employers must include a remuneration audit prior to the negotiation of the plan, which means reviewing the company's remuneration system. This will involve assessing job positions and setting up an action plan to correct inequalities in remuneration. The plan should set out specific measures, timings, the individual(s) responsible for carrying out each measure, etc.
And their salary registry must include average salary in works of the same value in the company and, if the average remuneration of one gender is at least 25 per cent higher than the average of the other gender, a justification for that difference.
The remuneration information (or lack of it) could result in administrative or judicial action, individual or collective, in accordance with existing legislation.